How to Preserve Food at Home Safely

Hello. I’m Kathy Riggs, Utah
State University Extensionprofessor for family
and consumer sciences. The question I will answer
today is regarding home foodpreservation safety. After all, home food
preservation safetyis priority number one. Have you ever asked yourself
the question, how can Ibe sure the foods I
have preserved at homeand placed on my storage shelves
are safe for my family to eat?Looking for visible evidence
of spoilage such as mold,a lack of a seal, perhaps the
food is slimy to the touch,or there’s an off color–these are all a
great place to start. However, before you prepare
your next batch of peachesor green beans for
processing, I wouldlike to review five
key guidelines providedby science- and
research-based resources thatwill help you guarantee
that your home preservedfoods are safe. Guideline number one is to
use current and tested canningrecipes. Food preservation is the process
we follow to treat and handlefood to keep it from spoiling. We want to prevent spoilage
and remove harmful bacteriain the safest way possible. Thankfully, science
has come a long wayin maximizing our
margin of safety that isif we adhere to those findings. There are four highly
recommended sourcesof what we call tested recipes. First is the USDA’s Complete
Guide to Home Canning. Next is So Easy to Preserve
from the University of GeorgiaExtension Service. Third is the Ball Blue
Book Guide to Preserving. Also, for those who prefer
to have an electronic sourceof tested recipes,
the National Centerfor Home Food Preservation
at www. nchfp. uga. eduutilizes USDA-endorsed
recipes and includes accessto the Complete Guide
to Home Canning. Guideline number
two is to use onlyapproved, up-to-date
canning methods. Food preservation
using moist heatis generally referred
to as canning. Now, there are two main methods
approved for preserving foodusing heat and moisture, which
is water, namely, pressurecanning and water-bath canning. Pressure canning is the
only approved methodfor low acid foods such as meat,
poultry, fish, and vegetables. These foods have the potential
for causing botulism foodpoisoning. Therefore, they
must be processedusing enough pressure to
reach 240 degrees Fahrenheitinside the canner. And that level of
pressure must bemaintained for
the amount of timelisted in the approved recipe. To reach 240 degrees Fahrenheit
at altitudes above sea level,additional pressure
must be added. These required
adjustments can bemade using either the
dial or weighted gauges. Water bath canning is used
for high acid foods includingmost fruits, pickles,
acidified tomatoes,and many tomato-based
products like salsa. I should also mention that new
information for safely usingsteam canners for high acid
foods has been released. The update is found on the
National Center for Home FoodPreservation website. That link is posted
for you here. Guideline number three is
to follow canning directionsexactly. The easiest way to undo
the time and effort putinto producing a high-quality
preserved food item,is to treat the process lightly. Remember the mention earlier
of science and research?When it comes to
food preservation,it’s crucial and
in some cases, lifesaving to pay attention to and
follow instructions exactly. The area that can be
adjusted is in the amountof herbs and spices. For example, you
could choose to putin less salt and more
cilantro or more blackpepper and less cayenne pepper. Guideline number four–
make altitude adjustmentsby adding more time
to water-bath canningor increasing pressure for
pressure-canned products. Not all bacteria, mold, spores,
et cetera, are created equal. Or in other words,
not all bacteriaare killed at the same rate
or at the same temperature. That is why some foods
can be processed safelyusing water bath
canning, and othersneed temperatures that can only
be achieved under pressure. Processing methods and times,
found in approved recipesand guidebooks, have
been calibrated properlyto preserve foods by removing
oxygen, destroying enzymes,preventing growth of undesirable
bacteria, yeast, and molds,and help form a high
vacuum seal in jars. Whether you add time
or increase temperaturewhen preserving foods
at your altitudedepends on if you live
at sea level or not. Please search for
altitude tablesin the canning guide you
choose to use and match itto your respective altitude. The National Center for Home
Food Preservation and USDAinclude those charts and tables
right along with the recipe. And guideline number 5 is to
make certain canned productshave a proper lid seal. Good vacuums form tight
seals which keep liquid in,and air and microorganisms out. A tight seal is generally one
that cannot be broken withoutthe assistance of a can opener. Let me demonstrate
what that sounds like. I’ll just take this rim off. And listen closely. There we go. So a strong tight
seal alone, however,does not mean the contents
in the jar are safe to eat. It’s also necessary to
follow the previous fourguidelines to be 100% certain. To review the key
points needed to assureyou have safely
processed foods–First, use current
and tested recipes. Number two, use only
approved canning methods. Number three, follow
directions exactly. Number four, make those
altitude adjustmentsfor time and temperature. And finally, number five,
make certain canned productsare properly sealed.

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